How Long Do Donkeys Live

Last Updated on February 24, 2022 by Allison Price

There are many factors that go into determining how long an animal will live, especially when it comes to animals as varied as the donkey. Below are some key differences between donkeys and their ideal environments. Also, what health issues donkeys may be experiencing.

Donkeys can be a long-term commitment because they often outlive other horses. Donkey years is an apt term for a long life!

In an ideal environment, a domestic donkey can live for between 27 and 40 years. However, there are many factors that influence this lifespan such as care and environment.

Donkeys are social and form strong bonds. A donkey’s ideal environment includes a companion of the same size as him.

Donkey sizes

What is the importance of size when discussing these animals? They come in many sizes, from tiny to large!

Miniature Donkeys

Miniature donkeys, also known as Mediterranean Miniatures, are a small-statured version of.

They are not deliberately bred down like many “miniature” breeds. Instead, they reach a smaller mature size based on their natural adaptations.

You may be wondering how small they are! At the wither, miniature donkeys measure under 36 inches in height!

Standard donkeys

Standard donkeys fall within the 9- to 14-hand height range. These donkeys reach the same height as an average pony when they mature.

Shakespeare said, however, that “Though they may be little, they are fierce!”

Standard donkeys can carry large loads and are common in many countries as draught animals.

Mammoth Donkeys

Mammoth donkeys have 14 hands. They are the same size as a pony or small horse but often larger. Mammoth donkeys can be ridden and used for draught work.

There are many breeds and classifications of domestic donkeys beyond the standard sizes, including the distinctively shaggy Poitou, the African Wild Ass and the South American Burro.

How Long Do Donkeys Live

Although the ideal environment for donkeys varies depending on their breed and size there are some consistent factors that should be considered, regardless of whether they are miniature or large.

7 Tips to Make Your Donkeys Last Longer

1. How to choose the right Pasture Companions

The most important consideration is the environment in which they live and their “roommates.”

First, donkeys thrive in social environments where they can interact and learn from other donkeys.

Standard and mammoths can be kept together with horses and ponies large and small, because they are equal in size and strength.

However, miniature donkeys need companions of their own stature and size.

They need to feel safe and secure in their home.

Equines can be very physically active in their interactions and play. A miniature donkey could easily get hurt in a pen with larger horses or donkeys.

Keep animals of the same size together to ensure an even playing field.

2. Let them have a friend

A second reason is that donkeys form strong bonds with their companions because they are social animals. Being separated from or losing their companion can have a negative impact on their health and their lifespan .

Many people have lost a pair of donkeys, one after the other. This is known as “broken heart syndrome”, which refers to the rapid decline in health and well-being of the second animal after the loss.

A third consideration is that donkeys are a long-term commitment.

Donkeys live longer than horses, and they are better matched with another donkey. They can live as long as 40 years, and their average life expectancy is 27 years.

It is crucial that a donkey sees their companion when they lose one. Give them time to grieve. (Have you mentioned how intelligent donkeys can be?

For a donkey’s well-being, companionship is essential.

3. Keep an eye on their health

Donkeys are known for being stubborn and tough. They also have a lot of intelligence. These qualities make them tough, stubborn and very intelligent. However, it can be difficult for them to recognize health problems early.

It is important to be aware of the health issues that donkeys are most likely to have before you make a decision about getting a donkey as a companion or pet.

These are the essential ranges of vitality for a healthy donkey:

  • Temperature: 97.2 – 100.8 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Pulse: 36-68 beats per minute
  • Respiration: 12-44 breaths per minute

4. A proper diet

Donkeys need a simple existence and only the basics: water, shelter and food. Shelter and water are obvious, but food can be difficult for donkeys.

Because they are more susceptible to obesity and metabolic diseases, donkeys need less sugar and protein than horses.

Talk to a veterinarian or nutritionist about the best diet for your donkey. This will be based on their activity level, age, and size. This is the most serious health issue donkeys can face.

You can also check out our What donkeys eat article.


Hyperlipidemia is one of the most common conditions and easy to spot. Hyperlipidemia is the accumulation of large amounts fat under the skin or in the bloodstream.

Hyperlipidemia can be caused by overeating, a high-protein or high-sugar diet, or donkey fasting that results in binging for several days.

You can see this as lumps under the skin that create a bumpy appearance all over their bodies.


Obesity can also be a major health problem for donkeys. This is why it is important to ensure that a donkey’s diet corresponds with its size, age, workload, and other factors.


Founder in donkeys can also be caused by diet. This is when the coffin bone in the hoof rotates and affects the delicate laminae in the hoof capsule. This is a direct connection to regular hoof care.

5. You should ensure that you provide routine hoof care and maintenance

Donkeys, like all animals, require regular care and maintenance in order to live a long and healthy existence.

Although donkeys’ hooves look different from horses’, they still need to be maintained and cared for.

Laminitis is a common problem in donkeys, especially as they age and their diet changes. Regular hoof care is important to maintain basic health and catch any potential problems early.

6. They are not to be considered parasites

Horses and donkeys are more vulnerable to parasites than horses.

It is vital to deworm your donkey regularly in order to avoid parasites like lungworms or other parasites that can reduce a donkey’s lifespan and negatively impact their health.

Texas researchers found that 86% donkeys tested positive for Equine Lungworms in a study.

Although this can be avoided with a routine deworming, it is a sign of how susceptible parasites donkeys are.

Besnoitiosis is another parasitic problem. This issue has been reported in North America since 2011, but it is still unknown to many practicing veterinarians.

You can distinguish besnoitiosis by the presence of legions around the eyes and mouth of the donkey, but its cause and treatment are still unknown.

7. Be on the lookout for signs of old age

Donkeys also have a long life expectancy. This means that common health problems such as arthritis are common in all species.

Although there are many long-term treatments for arthritis, a stubborn donkey might not be able to show symptoms until they experience severe pain.

A strong relationship with your farrier and vet can help you catch most health problems early.

Last Thoughts

Although donkeys can be tough and resilient, they need to be well-cared for. Regular farrier visits and preventative medicine (such as deworming and vaccinations) are essential parts of making sure your donkey has a long, healthy life. A well-cared for donkey can live as long as 40 years. All the best to your elderly friends!

Allison Price
Allison Price

I’m Allison, born and raised in San Diego California, the earliest memory I have with horses was at my grandfather’s farm. I used to sit at the stable as a kid and hang out with my Papa while he was training the horses. When I was invited to watch a horse riding competition, I got so fascinated with riding!